SIR EDWIN LUTYENS 1869-1944
In 1877, Lutyens's artist father bought a house in Thursley. Ned was the tenth of 13 children and because of illness the only one not to be formally educated. Instead he wandered the country lanes studying the buildings and haunted the village carpenter's shop.
Edwin Lutyens's close interest in local architecture extended beyond the vernacular farm dwellings and buildings. His friends, Barbara and Robert Webb, lived at the scrupulously formal, early Georgian, Milford House; subsequently Lutyens designed a row of cottages for them in the village. Lutyens was also encouraged by another neighbour, the artist Randolph Caldecott, whose illustrations for children's books and stories often included idealized West Surrey cottages. Ned acquired detailed technical knowledge through constant boyhood visits to Tickner's builder's yard in Godalming and from the buildings on which they were working.
In 1885, aged 15, Edwin Lutyens went to the South Kensington School of Art to study architecture. Two years later he joined the office of the architect Sir Ernest George and went on sketching tours with Herbert Baker, who became a life-long friend. Although without professional experience, Lutyens set up on his own and in 1889 received a commission from Arthur Chapman to design an additional wing for Crooksbury House near Farnham.
MISS JEKYLL AND MR LUTYENS
Miss Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens were introduced in 1889 by Harry Mangles of Littleworth near Seale, a pioneer rhododendron grower for whom Lutyens had already designed a gardener's cottage.
Gertrude Jekyll's reputation as a plantswoman and garden designer had been steadily growing. Her circle included William Robinson (author of The English Flower Garden), Dean Hole of Chichester (who wrote A Books about Roses) and G. F. Wilson, owner of the gardens at Wisley which now belong to the Royal Horticultural Society.
Miss Jekyll was determined to have her own house in her own garden and now that she had found her architect, they began to explore the landscape and architecture of south west Surrey in her pony cart. Her house, Musted Wood, one of Lutyens's early masterpieces, was begun in 1896.
Lutyens's practice was also increasing: it included a pair of lodges at Park Hatch, Hascombe, a new kitchen wing at Rake Manor, Milford, cottages at Frensham and Shere, Tilford Institute, Farnham Liberal Club and a chancel screen for Busbridge Church.
They shared the same downrightness of view and considerable sense of humour: sometimes unexpectedly revealed in his architecture. Miss Jekyll became increasingly involved in the gardens Lutyens was designing for his houses, advising on the materials to be used and supplying detailed planting plans. A supreme example of their work together is Orchards in Musted which is one of Lutyens's finest houses and built entirely of local materials; other examples of the partnership are at Tigbourne Court, Witley and Goddards in Abinger Hammer. Miss Jekyll's design for the Headmaster's garden at Charterhouse led to Lutyens being commissioned to build the Red House on Frith Hill, Godalming.
SIR EDWIN LUTYENS'S FAME
Knighted in 1918 and at the height of his fame, Lutyens continued to design great houses and gardens in Britain and overseas but extended his work to include more and more public and commercial buildings.
With his practice expanding and his growing family making more and more demands, so his work became increasingly intense. Lutyens's ambitions and opportunities coupled with his own interest and inclinations, called him to move away from designing buildings in the Surrey vernacular style. Since childhood he had been attracted by the symmetry and geometry of classical architecture as seen particularly in Georgian houses and most notably in the work of the architect Sir Christopher Wren.
Lutyens developed and interpreted these classical ideas in his own way and with great attention to detail, using form, proportion and space with a loving care that is belied by the simple beauty of the results.
The range of Lutyens's architecture was extraordinary: Castle Drogo in Devon (derived in part from the Red House in Godalming), the central buildings for Hampstead Garden suburb, Johannesburg Art Gallery and the British Embassy in Washington. In London he designed the headquarters of the Anglo Iranian Oil Company at Finsbury Circus, public housing for Westminster City Council, and the Midland Bank adjacent to St. James's Church in Piccadilly. He was also responsible for Hampton Court Bridge linking Surrey and Middlesex across the Thames.
Like Miss Jekyll, Edwin Lutyens took particular delight in designing for children. One of his nurseries was circular so that no child could ever be put in a corner. He also designed scenery for the original production of J. M. Barrie's play Peter Pan.